Brief in English


Own Faculty For Instruction in English?

The University of Helsinki is considering concentrating all of its foreign language instruction in one location. Using the Amsterdam University’s International School as a model, the University of Helsinki is examining the pros and cons of housing all of the university’s English language instruction under one roof, as a separate faculty.
There are approximately 1 400 international students currently enrolled at the University of Helsinki, half of which are exchange students and half degree students. As the numbers of international students has risen, the University has responded by offering more classes in English each year. Unfortunately, the offerings are scarce and the curriculum changes radically from year to year as departments experiment with English instruction.
    Teppo Heiskanen
is the International Study Secretary for the Faculty of Theology. “The English instruction that we offer is composed of tiny, one credit pieces that are thrown together in a panic. It would work better if each department didn’t have to try to offer something on its own each semester. Each faculty could cooperate to create something more permanent, and faculties could even work among themselves,” he says. In any case, the number of international students, as well as the number of classes taught in English, will in all likelihood continue to grow at the University of Helsinki. University administration has put an emphasis on English instruction as part of their university strategy for the years 2001-2004.
    On September 3rd in the largest daily newspaper in Finland, Helsingin Sanomat, ran a short story on the subject with the headline “University of Helsinki considers Separate Faculty for Foreigners’ Instruction”. The provoking headline stirred some heated responses. Were the University of Helsinki to found a separate unit for foreign language instruction, some fear it would in effect create a foreign “ghetto” at the university, isolating the international students from their Finnish colleagues.
    Researcher Markus Laitinen works for the University’s Developmental Division and is examining means to combat this possible problem. “We shall just have to ensure that the classes taught in English that are offered will also be degree requirements for the Finnish students.” Laitinen is actually more concerned about the risk of separating classes taught in English from the rest of the studies. He fears that English language instruction could become much “lighter” when it is far removed from the foundation and academic background that support it. He explains, “I don’t know whether there would be any advantages to teaching biology and international relations in the same place.”

Eric Hobsbawm’s Age of Extremes

There are no Nobel prizes for history writers and few have earned international notoriety. One history writer, Eric Hobsbawm, Emeritus Professor at the Birckbeck College of the London University, is becoming known today for his accessible and enlightened history books.
Hobsbawm was born in Alexandria to a Jewish family and lived in Austria and England. Today he is nearly eighty years old and works out of the New York -based New School for Social Research. His specialty is economic history, although he is also an expert on the history of nationalism, revolution and jazz. His objective as a historian is not to report incidents, but to ask why they happened and how they are linked together and, most of all, to tell the story so that it is readable. He incorporates the sayings, headlines, anecdotes and popular culture of the times into a fluid telling of history like no other.
    His latest book is called Age of Extremes: The Short Twentieth Century, 1914-1991 . This latest book splits the last century into two significant halves. The first period, 1914-1945, Hobsbawm calls the Age of Catastrophe. The first world war was a “war of the masses” – not just a war among soldiers, possible only when nationalist ideology, mass production and technology are in place. Hobsbawm claims that this kind of barbaric, inhumane war brought about the death of liberalism and the rise of totalitarianism.
    The next three decades, 1945-1975, Hobsbawm calls Golden Age. Lamenting what he calls the first and second cold wars, the first beginning in the late 40s and the second starting in the 1970s. Hobsbawn is also quick to point out the economic prosperity of the period. He considers the rise and fall of socialist movements and the effect their successes have on society today. Changes in the cultural climate don’t go without mention either, developments in the arts and sciences add to the intellectual quality of the book.

Court Charges For Assault On Ghanaian Student

The Helsinki Circuit Courts decided on September 10 to charge Ilkka Tanner with assault and slander. He will serve four months of a probationary prison sentence and pay 6 000 FIM in damages to Peter Pryce for clothing and physical harm. Tanner had accused Pryce of theft in the same incident, but the courts threw out the charges. It may be that the case will be appealed to a higher court.
On Saturday, April 18, 1998 at around one o’clock in the afternoon, Peter Pryce had completed his faculty exam for the Faculty of Social Science and was leaving the Forestry Building of the University. He was walking down Unioninkatu when Tanner yelled racial insults to him.
    Pryce confronted him for this behavior after which Tanner supposedly hit him and tried to escape to his car. Pryce phoned the police on his cell phone, after asking some teenagers that had witnessed the incident to do something to no avail.
    Pryce followed Tanner to his car, his cellular phone was still connected to the police at their request. Tanner opened the back of his car and took out a tirebar. Tanner claimed to have used it only as a threat, although Pryce said he blocked a hit to his body with his arm and received injuries to his wrist. When Tanner tried to drive away, Pryce grabbed his keys and fell to the ground. Tanner began to jump on his groin in an effort to get his keys back. Near 50 people gathered around the men during the incident, of which only one woman tried to stop Tanner. The police arrived and stopped the assault. They interviewed the teenage boys that were witnesses only at Pryce’s insistence and told Pryce to go home, although he was bleeding. Pryce’s friend convinced him to go to the Maria Hospital and was found to have internal injuries.
    Ilkka Tanner wanted to tell his side of the story to Ylioppilaslehti last year. Here are some of his comments: “(Pryce) provoked the situation himself. If I were in Morocco or Russia and someone said something derogatory to me, I would walk away.” “If you think biologically, every healthy person and animal is a racist. Each of us tries to protect our own people. No peoples of the world have survived if they let other races combine with them.” “In Finland, the situation has come on so fast that people don’t even see it yet. When we have a multi-cultured society, the race wars will start.” “All I can do is make their (foreigners’) stay here as uncomfortable as possible. I tell them that I don’t like them here.”

by Pamela Kaskinen